Meredith C. Carroll: Over the hill and up a creek
February 14, 2008
Being middle-aged has taken quite a beating as of late. The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning last week that Botox injections ” the saving grace for those with rapidly maturing foreheads ” can result in serious adverse reactions, including death.
Forty-seven-year-old Columbia University and Harvard Law School graduate Barack Obama has been dogged in recent weeks by critics who say the junior senator from Illinois is too young and inexperienced to be a replacement for the guy who cites Colgate toothpaste as the thing he has in common with the former Prime Minster of the United Kingdom. And now comes word indicting the fifth decade of life as the worst.
According to a recent study, people are more likely to be “truly miserable” in their 40s than at any other time. Researchers say one possible reason is that it could be the period in life when people realize their dreams will likely go unfulfilled. Another theory is that people start to die more frequently after hitting the big 4-0, which in turn is a reminder to survivors of their own mortality and impending death.
In further depressing news for forty-somethings, it appears as if the downward middle age spiral doesn’t discriminate. It hits those married and single, wealthy and destitute, as well as those with or without children. It remains to be seen whether the information in the study is so depressing that it will negatively affect people in their 30s who are now inevitably becoming painfully aware of what’s in store for them.
On a more uplifting note, the study found that those who make it to the age of 70 in good physical condition will enjoy the same mental health and happiness as a 20-year-old ” just as long as it’s a 20-year-old who hasn’t heard what could very well happen once 40 hits. (Cue golf claps.)
Of course there are plenty of people who never experience a blue period in their 40s.
Recommended Stories For You
At least not solely by virtue of being middle-aged. Another recently released study suggests the future is “bleak” for people whose spouses get on their nerves. The research found that the longer a couple stays together, the more they irk each other.
Nitpicking that at one time is found to be only mildly annoying can develop into a majorly thorny issue as the years of marital bliss progress.
And it turns out that as the husband/wife relationship deteriorates, it makes other relationships seem rosy by comparison. The study says that’s because people can weed out friends, ditching those who never cease causing aggravation.
Unfortunately, though, it’s never quite as easy to scrap a spouse.
But, according to a different study, holding on to a hated life partner could be good for longevity. Preliminary findings from a study out of the University of Michigan show that couples that fail to express their anger toward one another die way before than those who regularly duke it out. Not to mention couples that suppress their ire increase their likelihood of developing high blood pressure and heart disease.
In other words, people who survive the misery of their 40s and make it to 70 in okay shape ” just in time to enjoy the same mental benefits of a 20-year-old ” still enjoy good life expectancy rates as long as they share the rest of their lives with partners who make their skin crawl.
To be sure, there are plenty of advantages to being middle-aged that none of the studies mention. Car insurance rates are usually lower for drivers with long, clean records (although, of course, life insurance rates jump significantly after the age of 40). Forty-somethings usually stop getting seated at the kids’ table at family events, and move to the family table from the singles’ table at weddings and bar mitzvahs.
Also, forty-somethings are just a handful of years away from those coveted AARP memberships.
And turning 40 means it’ll only ever be another five years or so until 61-year-old Cher looks like she’s 40, too. Unless the FDA decides to ban Botox outright anytime soon, in which case Cher should age well past her 40s within a few months.